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Apr 01, 2015 | 11:44 AM

Masters Merch

Just because you don't have a Masters ticket doesn't mean you can't pick up a little Masters merch and pretend you attended the most coveted event in golf. Masters.com has an online store where you can pick up this year's program for just $10, as well limited edition prints ($195), photos ($35-$75), vintage posters ($25-$169 framed), and photo book ($98), but that's about it. You can't get any hats or shirts to impress your buddies at the course. For that you have to go to e-bay, where a "masters golf" search turned up almost 22,000 results, including badges for this year's tournament going for $1,750. Get that one and you can plan on spending an equal amount in the merchandise pavillion. The good news is you won't have to pretend you were at the Masters.

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Mar 31, 2015 | 08:39 AM

Big Field for Augusta

With one week to go the Masters field is all but set and it’s going to be a big one—99 players. Last weekend four European Tour players earned invitations by climbing into the Top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings:  England’s Paul Casey, South Africa’s Branden Grace, India’s Anirban Lahiri, and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger.  Just one qualifying opportunity remains—victory in this week’s Houston Open—and should that go to a player who’s not already invited, the starting field at Augusta will climb to triple digits for the first time since 1966. However, whether all 100 will actually make it to the first tee is questionable. Steve Stricker, recovering from back surgery, hasn’t played since December, Kevin Stadler, (wrist injury) has been absent for nearly three months, Brooks Koepka (ribs) and Graeme McDowell (ankle) have withdrawn from the past two tournaments. And then there’s Mr. Questionmark, Tiger Woods.

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Mar 30, 2015 | 06:21 AM

While Woods Waits

In case you’ve been wondering what Tiger Woods has been doing while getting his game back to Tour standards, he’s been, among other things, building his course-architecture business. After generally good reviews of his first course to open—El Cardonal (shown above), part of the Diamante luxury community in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico—and awaiting the opening of his first U.S. venture—Bluejack National, another private club, this one near Houston—it’s just been announced that Tiger and his team will redesign a 27-hole facility near Beijing, China. According to numerous reports, Beijing Tian’an Holiday Golf Club will get a Woods redo and re-emerge as Pacific Links National Golf Club, part of a 12-course collection run by Pacific Links International of Canada. It’s also been said that the redesign is part of a two-course deal—worth $16.5 million to Tiger Woods Design—but without any details on what the second course might be or where. Don’t we all wish stepping away from our day jobs could be so lucrative?

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Mar 27, 2015 | 06:42 AM

City Slickers

The U.S. Census Bureau released its list of the country’s fastest growing metropolitan areas yesterday and the big winner is… golf. Well, not exactly, but when you see the list of cities that grew the fastest between July 1, 2003, and July 1, 2014, you can draw your own conclusions. Number one on the list for the second year in a row is The Villages (shown above), the retirement community in central Florida that grew 5.4% during that calendar year to a population of 114,350—big enough, obviously, to count as a city. Here’s the rest of the top 10, with their growth rates:

Myrtle Beach, N.C./S.C.—3.2%

Austin, Tex.—3%

Odessa, Tex.—2.9%

St. George, Utah—2.9%

Cape Coral, Fla.—2.7%

Bend, Ore.—2.7%

Greeley, Colo.—2.6%

Midland, Tex.—2.6%

Naples, Fla.—2.5%

Eight of the next 10 cities are in the south, including Hilton Head Island, Raleigh, Orlando, and Charleston. And Florida contains seven of the top 50 fastest-growers. By the way, California is the most populous state, with 38.8 million people, while Texas is second with 27 million. So you tell us: If golf isn’t the answer, what is?

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